Dominic Solanke is competing with Tammy Abraham for England coach Gareth Southgate’s approval and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

When Southgate decided to promote Solanke from the Under-21s to the senior squad over the weekend, he reunited a strike partnership that was lethal when together in Chelsea’s youth set-up.

The duo scored 41 goals each for the club’s various academy teams in 2014-15, helping them win the FA Youth Cup and Uefa Youth League, which is the equivalent of the Champions League for Under-19s.

As Solanke told Standard Sport: “We had a partnership where if one of us wasn’t scoring the other one was. We would set up goals for each other. 

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“When you’re playing with good players, it comes naturally. We were young and just tried to win as much as we could. We had a lot of fun, it was good times.

“We have that understanding. We grew up together for so many years in Chelsea’s academy, spent every year together, playing nearly every game. You get a good bond.”

The pair joined Chelsea’s youth set-up as eight-year-old’s and have been close friends ever since.

But the manner of the profession naturally breeds a rivalry, too. Both wanted to make it at Chelsea but Abraham moved ahead in the pecking order last term.

While he was scoring 26 goals on loan at Bristol City, Solanke, who had struggled the year before at Vitesse Arnhem, became embroiled in contract negotiations.

It ended up with him not reaching an agreement and moving to Liverpool in the summer instead, the fee being subject to a tribunal.

In Pictures | England train ahead of Brazil friendly | 13/11/2017

The 20-year-old is still waiting for his first Liverpool goal, whereas Abraham has netted four times in the Premier League on loan at Swansea and also beaten him to an England cap courtesy of his start against Germany four days ago.

However, Solanke can point to earning the player of the tournament award after scoring four goals as England Under-20s won the World Cup in June.

But there are no feelings of jealousy between them as Solanke added: “We are always constantly battling with each other and giving each other banter. When you’re both doing well, it just pushes us to keep doing better. It is a friendly rivalry. Everyone wants to play but we send messages to each other when one of us has done something well.

“It’s always good to support your friends, to show that you’re watching and supporting.”

Both players will be on the bench against Brazil tonight but the dream remains to reunite their Chelsea partnership on a regular basis for the England side. 

“Growing up, we knew in the back of our minds that we both wanted to be playing for England one day,” Solanke concluded. “It is the ultimate goal.”

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